World Bank pledges US$5 billion to spur energy generation in Africa

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The World Bank has pledged US$5 billion in technical and financial assistance for energy projects in six African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

The move, partnered with US President Barack Obama's Power Africa Initiative, was made in order to provide power for 600 million people on the continent that have little to no access to electricity. 

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, World Bank group president, said: “We think that the US Power Africa initiative will play an extremely important role in achieving the goal of providing electricity for Africa. So today I'm very pleased to announce that the World Bank Group, following President Obama's lead, will partner with Power Africa by committing $5 billion in direct financing, investment guarantees, and advisory services for project preparation in Power Africa's six initial partner countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The US Government and the World Bank Group are working now on specific tasks and milestones which could help to achieve one quarter of Power Africa's goal of generating 10,000 megawatts of new power in Sub Saharan Africa.”

Due to their lack of access to electricity, many people in Africa are forced to use diesel generators or indoor cooking fires in order to generate power. While Africa has a vast amount of resources available to build expansive solar, geothermal, wind and hydropower networks, there has yet to be much traction in establishing these systems.

Makhtar Diop, World Bank’s vice president for Africa, said: “Like Europe and the rest of the world, Africa deserves the same opportunity to exploit this green source of power to improve the lives and economic prospects of its people. Beyond building up power generators, they must be connected to the market, which calls for regional cooperation to build the transmission network. We are working with African leaders and their development partners to create power pools in Africa’s East, West, Central, and Southern sub-regions. Those countries with abundant geothermal, gas, hydro, solar, and wind resources can feed their excess power supply into a common pool, while neighboring states with less energy and generation capacity can benefit from this integrated approach to delivering electricity to their people.”

Despite the need for aid, the PV market in Africa is slowly growing. SolarReserve’s 75MW Lesedi PV plant began operations in May, while the 96MWp Jasper plant is nearing completion. Other future projects include a 2MW PV plant in Senegal (Yingli) and a 6MW solar park in Sierra Leone.

Further details of projects that will be supported by the funds have yet to be disclosed.

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